Posted on

New York bombing suspect’s eBay and YouTube accounts give insight into his mind

Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after a shootout with police Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, in Linden, N.J.
Image: AP

The man suspected of planting multiple, highly lethal bombs around New York and New Jersey used eBay to source materials, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in federal court.

The charges against Ahmad Rahami, 28, include the use of weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, and destruction of property by means of fire or explosive, according to a statement from Peter Licata, a FBI special agent and member of the agency’s Joint Terrorist Task Force.

There were eight bombs littered around New York and New Jersey during the course of the weekend. It is alleged Rahami was the man behind all the devices. Three of the bombs had mobile phones attached, according to authorities, which were used as timers.

On Saturday morning, an improvised explosive device with a pipe bomb was left at the site of a fun run in Seaside Park, New Jersey. Almost 12 hours later, an improvised explosive device detonated in a dumpster at W. 23rd Street in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. It injured 31 people. Four blocks away, on W. 27th Street, another explosive device was found by authorities, made from a pressure cooker packed with ball bearings and prepared for maximum damage. In the final instance, a backpack was discovered in Elizabeth, New Jersey, with multiple bombs inside. As a robot approached the backpack, one bomb detonated.

In the 14-page criminal complaint, Licata details the multiple usernames allegedly associated with Rahami, the bombing suspect, which show eBay purchases of materials used in homemade bombs, a YouTube account with videos related to extremist Islam, and mobile phones connected to the accused.

The mobile phones appear to be the main link to Rahami. The phone discovered on the explosive device at 27th Street in New York was registered to Rahami, police allege, and included an email address with the username “Yaafghankid786.” Another phone used in the bombing was also allegedly registered to him. Both devices were shipped to a store in New Jersey, not far from where Rahami was living.

Rahami also had a Facebook account and a YouTube account linked to this username. It seems he did little to hide his identity in the months leading up to the alleged bombing spree, including using an eBay account with his actual name as the username.

Between June 20 and Aug. 10, the eBay account with the username “ahmadrahimi” purchased multiple items from various sellers which have been known to be used in homemade explosive devices, according to the document. The items included citric acid (“great for bath bombs and candy making”), printed circuit board makers, a fireworks firing system complete with electrical match so you can ignite fireworks remotely, and lead and steel ballbearings.

An example of the type of ballbearings that were ordered.

Image: eBay

An example of an electric match and fireworks.

Image: ebay

“I know, based on my training, experience, and conversations with other law enforcement officials, that E-match electric igniters can be used as a critical component of the detonation system of an improvised explosive device,” Licata wrote.

All the items were shipped to an address located in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, which has been linked to a business where Rahami was employed until recently.

Evidence teams investigate at the scene of Saturday’s explosion on West 23rd Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Image: AP

The criminal filing also outlines the discovery of a handwritten journal on Rahami as he was arrested in Linden, New Jersey, on Monday. Within the journal, there are multiple paragraphs linking the alleged bomber to extremist ideals but much of the handwriting is illegible due to being damaged in the arrest.

According to the filing, the journal contained mention of the writer obtaining guidance from Sheikh Anwar, which is believed to be a reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, formerly a senior leader and recruiter for al-Qaeda, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Al-Awlaki left behind an extensive legacy of YouTube propaganda, including anti-America rhetoric, which is still having an impact after his death. He was particularly influential in pushing an interpretation of jihad as the armed struggle against perceived enemies of Islam.

The journal also spoke of Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 and referred to “Brother Osama Bin Laden.”

Authorities have not yet confirmed outside of this criminal filing that Rahami had connections with international terrorist organizations, but the journal entries outline the writer’s anti-U.S. views and his idealization of Islamic extremists.

“You [USA Government] continue your slaught[er] against mujahidean [those engaged in jihad] be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Sham [Syria]. Palestine…” the journal read.

It also noted the writer’s fear about being caught before being able to carry out a suicide attack, indicating there may have been another attack to follow.

It ended with a warning to America. “Inshallah [God willing] the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets, Gun shots to your police. Death to Your OPPRESSION.”

The YouTube account connected to the username “Yaafghankid786” listed favorite videos related to jihad including “jihad nasheed ya shahid” [jihad is a martyr’s anthem] and “best jihad nasheed [anthem].” It also had love songs, car tutorials and a video on how to tie a tie.

Following the bombing spree, Rahami was identified as a suspect by authorities via the mobile phones, fingerprints left on the bomb at 27th street and on the backpack, and via surveillance footage obtained at both New York bombing sites.

Authorities, according to the filing, also discovered cell phone footage from the phone of an unidentified family member. The video showed a fuse attached to a cylinder container being lit in a hole in the ground at the back of a property. Geolocation data showed it was filmed at the New Jersey residence where Rahami lived. Someone can be heard laughing as the cylinder makes a loud noise and then bursts into flames. The accused bomber can be seen at the end of the footage.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/09/21/ahmad-rahami-youtube-ebay/